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Gilbert, Zalmon
b. April 10, 1841; d. January 21, 1897
Discipline: Photography

Zalmon Gilbert was born in Fulton, New York on April 10, 1841. In 1846, at the age of five, he moved with his family to Genesco, Illinois, where he spent his formative years.

In July 1861, he joined an independent militia from Moline, Illinois led by a captain named Graham. That September, he was taken prisoner during a siege of Lexington, Missouri, was paroled, and discharged from the militia. The following spring, he enlisted with Company H of the 59th Indiana Volunteer Infantry, served for eleven months (which included a siege of Farmington, Tennessee), and was discharged due to a heart condition.

For several years following his service, he toured Illinois and Iowa as a photographer although it is unclear how he picked up the trade. Widowed, Gilbert (with his teenage son James in tow) relocated to Mandan (near Bismarck) in November 1881 and established the Gilbert and Miller photography studio.

He advertised himself as a “practical photographer” who had photographs of the town of Mandan and the nearby Heart River for sale in his gallery.

His business partner in the studio was Alice C. Miller. In 1885, she moved back to Iowa (her native state) with her husband Clarke, a news reporter. There the marriage ended, although it is unknown as to whether Clarke died or if they divorced. In any case, she married Gilbert in early 1893 and moved back to Mandan. Tragically, however, she became seriously ill after the move and died later on that spring (March 24).

He lived and worked in Mandan for the rest of his life, which ended on January 21, 1897 after a brief struggle with a digestive disorder and a severe cold. He was buried in Greenwood Cemetery and was later moved to the Union Cemetery when it was established in 1902. He was survived by his son James and by two sisters, one in Des Moines and the other in Chicago.

- Ben Nemenoff

Bibliography:

Andreas, A.T., publisher. Andreas’ Historical Atlas of Dakota. Chicago: R.R. Donnelly and Sons, The Lakeside Press, 1884.

Other Sources:

State Historical Society of North Dakota

 
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